Offshore wind expansion is a cornerstone of the UK’s Net Zero targets and represents a central aim of the Government’s ‘Green Industrial Revolution’. As of early 2021, approximately 10 GW capacity is operational, with much more at various stages in the development pipeline. By 2030, Government has committed to produce 40 GW of energy from offshore wind (including 1 GW from floating wind), and by 2050 the total targeted could rise to at least 100 GW. Meeting this target will require deployment of more than 3 GW a year, equating to approximately one 12 MW turbine installed every weekday throughout the remainder of the decade.
As the sector plans for this massive growth it is timely for Natural England to review its approach to offshore wind. We are the statutory advisor for nature conservation and landscape for development planning cases, and bring many years of experience advising the offshore wind sector on these issues.
Here we articulate our views on how to meet some of the environmental challenges presented by offshore wind expansion in the form of aims and objectives, which can serve as a springboard for collaborative discussion and a template for strategic solutions. Our deep understanding of the issues relating to nature means we are expertly placed to support the various initiatives and programmes already beginning to address these challenges, in close collaboration with Government and other partners. Ultimately the goal of our new approach is to best develop and support solutions which allow nature to thrive alongside renewable energy growth in line with Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and Green Industrial Revolution aims.
We want to share our approach in order to:
• Set the direction for Natural England’s engagement with offshore wind and provide a framework for an organisational action plan;
• Establish aims and objectives around which strategic solutions for the sector can be designed to benefit and enhance nature;
• Catalyse discussions with our partners and stakeholders to explore new ideas and shared goals, and establish Natural England’s role in helping to achieve them; and
• Maximise the value of our expertise to support the initiatives and programmes already underway for offshore wind.